Governor Schwarzenegger, First Lady Maria Shriver Will Induct Harvey Milk into California Hall of Fame

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Vaishalee Raja, Equality California
916-284-9187 vaishalee@eqca.org

Governor Schwarzenegger, First Lady Maria Shriver Will Induct Harvey Milk into California Hall of Fame

EQCA Calls for Governor to Sign Bill Commemorating Legacy of Civil Rights Leader

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Today,
Governor Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver announced that
Harvey Milk will be inducted into the California Museum's California
Hall of Fame in honor of his work to advance civil rights for the
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

"Harvey
Milk is truly deserving of this honor - his tremendous legacy is still
felt today worldwide," said Geoff Kors, Equality California (EQCA)
executive director. "We urge Governor Schwarzenegger to take the next
step in recognizing Harvey Milk's courageous work championing equal
protections for all, just as President Obama has, and to sign the
Harvey Milk bill into law as a tribute to his invaluable contributions
to our state and nation."

The
California Hall of Fame, conceived by First Lady Maria Shriver, was
established in 2006 to honor legendary people like Jackie Robinson,
Cesar E. Chavez, and Billie Jean King who embody California's
innovative spirit and have left a mark in history.

Last
month, President Obama posthumously honored Harvey Milk with the Medal
of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. Governor
Schwarzenegger also honored Harvey Milk in January to commemorate the
50th anniversary of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA),
California's principal civil rights non-discrimination law.

Despite
the national and international recognition Harvey Milk has garnered,
the Governor's Secretary of Education recently sent a letter opposing
the Harvey Milk Day bill that reads:

"As
you know, the Governor vetoed a substantially similar bill last year.
The veto message stated that Harvey Milk's contributions should
continue to be recognized at the local level by those who were most
impacted by his contributions. Since this bill is nearly identical, the
veto message remains applicable."

Senator
Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) re-introduced the Harvey Milk Day bill,
sponsored by EQCA, earlier this year. The bill calls for a "day of
special significance" in honor of slain civil rights leader Harvey Milk
and seeks to educate Californians about the former San Francisco City
Supervisor, the nation's first openly LGBT person elected to political
office in a major city.

"This
month I had the privilege to meet and talk with President Obama who
bestowed the nation's highest honor upon my uncle for his enduring
‘message of hope - hope unashamed, hope unafraid' as the President
stated in his public comments," said Stuart Milk, nephew of Harvey
Milk. "I am hopeful that Governor Schwarzenegger will also take the
time to meet with me along with others whose lives are touched by
Harvey Milk. Although the California Secretary of Education doesn't yet
understand my uncle's global impact, I do believe the Governor can see
the President's perspective when the President said, ‘Harvey Milk was
here to recruit us - all of us - to join a movement and change a
nation,'" Milk added.

Harvey
Milk's groundbreaking service helped bring LGBT people out of the
closet and into civic life. During his time in office, he was
responsible for both passing San Francisco's first gay-rights ordinance
and helping to defeat the controversial Briggs Initiative, which sought
to ban gay and lesbian teachers from public schools. Milk, along with
San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, was assassinated in November 1978.

The
Harvey Milk Day bill was originally introduced last year by Senator
Leno, but Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the measure at the time,
claiming Harvey Milk was not well known enough beyond San Francisco.
Since that time, however, Harvey Milk has become a focal point of
national conversation following the release of the successful
biographical film Milk, for which both actor Sean Penn and
screenwriter Dustin Lance Black received an Academy Award. In March,
Penn joined Equality California's campaign publicly advocating for the
bill while Black testified before a Senate committee on the need to
appropriately honor the civil rights leader. The bill has already
passed the State Senate by a 24-14 vote, including bipartisan support.
The bill now moves to the Assembly floor for a concurrence vote and
then the Governor's desk, where, this year, supporters hope he will
sign the bill into law.

The
2009 California Hall of Fame inductees are: entertainer Carol Burnett,
former Intel CEO Andrew Grove, governor and U.S. senator Hiram Johnson,
decathlete and philanthropist Rafer Johnson, industrialist Henry J.
Kaiser, philanthropist and peace activist Joan Kroc, film-maker George
Lucas, football commentator John Madden, artist Fritz Scholder, author
Danielle Steel, fitness and bodybuilding pioneer Joe Weider, and Air
Force test pilot General Chuck Yeager. The California Hall of Fame
induction ceremony will take place on Tuesday, December 1, 2009, at the
California Museum in Sacramento.

To find out more information about EQCA's legislation, visit www.eqca.org/legislation.

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Equality California is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to achieve equality and civil rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Californians.

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